World Series titles (3)
1966 1970 1983
4 5 8 20 22 33 42
Wild card berths (3)
1996 2012 2016
The Oriole Bird
World Series championships
1983, 1970, 1966
AL Pennants (7)
1944 1966 1969 1970 1971 1979 1983
East Division titles (9)
1969 1970 1971 1973 1974 1979 1983 1997 2014
Oriole Park at Camden Yards
Balti, Maryland, United States
The Baltimore Orioles are an American professional baseball team based in Baltimore, Maryland. The Orioles compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member of the American League (AL) East division. One of the AL's eight charter franchises when the league was established in 1901 with President Ban Johnson, this particular franchise spent its first year as a major league club in Milwaukee, Wisconsin as the Milwaukee Brewers before moving to St. Louis, Missouri to become the St. Louis Browns. After 52 often-beleaguered years in St. Louis, the franchise was purchased in November 1953 by Baltimore business interests led by Clarence Miles. The franchise officially moved to Baltimore for the 1954 season and adopted the historic "Orioles" name in honor of the official state bird of Maryland. The Orioles name had also been used by several previous major and minor league baseball clubs in Baltimore, including the franchise that would eventually become the New York Yankees. Nicknames for the team include the "O's" and the "Birds".
- Milwaukee Brewers
- Baltimore Orioles
- Seeds of success 19541959
- Pennant contenders 19601965
- Milt Pappas for Frank Robinson
- Glory years 19661983
- Final seasons at Memorial Stadium 19841991
- Camden Yards opens 19921993
- Strike year 1994
- Ripken breaks the streak 1995
- Playoff years 19961997
- Beginning of a downturn 19982002
- Post Ripken era and downfall 20032011
- Back in the playoffs 2012present
- Thank God Im a Country Boy
- Orioles Magic and other songs
- The First Army Band
- PA announcer
- Postseason appearances
- Retired numbers
- Team Hall of Fame
- Team captains
- Individual records Batting
- Individual records Pitching
- Rivalry with the Washington Nationals
The Orioles experienced their greatest success from 1964 to 1983 and have won a total of nine division championships (1969–1971, 1973–1974, 1979, 1983, 1997, 2014), six pennants (1966, 1969–1971, 1979, 1983), three World Series championships (1966, 1970, 1983), three wild card berths (1996, 2012, 2016), and five Most Valuable Player Awards (third baseman Brooks Robinson in 1964, outfielder Frank Robinson in 1966, first baseman Boog Powell in 1970, and shortstop Cal Ripken, Jr. in 1983 and 1991).
After suffering a stretch of 14 straight losing seasons from 1998 to 2011, the team has qualified for the postseason three times since 2012, including a division title and advancement to the ALCS for the first time in 17 years in 2014. The Orioles are also well known for their successful stadium, the trend-setting Oriole Park at Camden Yards, which opened in 1992 in downtown Baltimore.
The modern Orioles franchise can trace its roots back to the original Milwaukee Brewers of the minor Western League, beginning in 1894 when the league reorganized. The Brewers were there when the WL renamed itself the American League in 1900.
At the end of the 1900 season, the American League removed itself from baseball's National Agreement (the formal understanding between the NL and the minor leagues). Two months later, the AL declared itself a competing major league. As a result of several franchise shifts, the Brewers were one of only two Western League teams that didn't fold, move or get kicked out of the league (the other being the Detroit Tigers). In its first game in the American League, the team lost to the Detroit Tigers 14–13 after blowing a nine-run lead in the 9th inning. To this day, it is a major league record for the biggest deficit overcome that late in the game. During the first American League season in 1901, they finished last (eighth place) with a record of 48–89. Its lone Major League season, the team played at Lloyd Street Grounds, between 16th and 18th Streets in Milwaukee.
The Miles-Krieger (Gunther Brewing Company)-Hoffberger group renamed their new team the Baltimore Orioles soon after taking control of the franchise. The name has a rich history in Baltimore, having been used by a National League team in the 1890s. In 1901, Baltimore and McGraw were awarded an expansion franchise in the growing American League, naming the team the Orioles. After a battle with Ban Johnson, the Head of the American League in 1902, McGraw took many of the top players including Dan McGann, Roger Bresnahan and Joe McGinnity to the New York Giants. As an affront to Johnson, McGraw kept the black and orange colors of the New York Giants, which San Francisco wears to this day. In 1903, the rest of the team was transferred to New York becoming the New York Highlanders, until 1912, at which time they were renamed the Yankees. As a member of the high-minor league level International League, the Orioles competed at what is now known as the AAA level from 1903 to 1953. When Oriole Park burned down in 1944, the team moved to a temporary home, Municipal Stadium, where they won the Junior World Series. Their large postseason crowds caught the attention of the major leagues, eventually leading to a new MLB franchise in Baltimore.
Seeds of success (1954–1959)
After starting the 1954 campaign with a two-game split against the Tigers in Detroit, the Orioles returned to Baltimore on April 15 to a welcoming parade that wound through the streets of downtown, with an estimated 350,000 spectators lining the route. In its first-ever home opener at Memorial Stadium later in the afternoon, they treated a sellout crowd of 46,354 to a 3–1 victory over the Chicago White Sox. The remainder of the season would not be as pleasant, with the team enduring 100 losses while avoiding the AL cellar by only three games. With fellow investors both frustrated with his domination of the franchise's business operations and dissatisfied with yet another seventh-place finish, Clarence Miles resigned in early November 1955. Real estate developer James Keelty, Jr. succeeded him as president with investment banker Joseph Iglehart the new board chairman.
The seeds of long-term success were planted on September 14, 1954, when the Orioles hired Paul Richards to become the ballclub's manager and general manager. He laid the foundation for what would years later be called the Oriole Way. The instruction of baseball fundamentals became uniform in every detail between all classes within the organization. Players were patiently refined until fundamentally sound instead of being hastily advanced to the next level.
For the remainder of the 1950s, the Orioles crawled up the standings, reaching as high as fifth place with a 76–76 record in 1957. Richards succeeded in stocking the franchise with a plethora of young talent which included Dave Nicholson, Pete Ward, Ron Hansen (1960 AL Rookie of the Year), Milt Pappas, Jerry Adair, Steve Barber (20 wins in 1963), Boog Powell, Dave McNally and Brooks Robinson. Unfortunately, Richards also had the tendency to recklessly spend money on individuals with dubious baseball skills. This became a major problem as bidding wars between the ballclubs to land the best amateur players escalated signing bonuses.
The solution came on November 5, 1958, when Lee MacPhail was appointed general manager, allowing Richards to focus on his managerial duties. MacPhail added much needed discipline to the scouting staff by establishing cross-checkers who thoroughly evaluated young hopefuls to determine whether they were worthy of being tendered a contract. He also accepted the title of president after Keelty resigned in mid-December 1959.
Pennant contenders (1960–1965)
One month prior to the end of the 1961 season, Richards resigned as the team's skipper to become the general manager of the expansion Houston Colt .45s. A year earlier, he succeeded in establishing the Orioles as a legitimate contender when they stood atop the AL standings as late as early September before finishing in second place at 89–65.
In 1964, the Birds, piloted by Hank Bauer in his first year of managing the ballclub, were involved in a tight pennant race against the Yankees and White Sox. They ended up in third place with a 97–65 record, only two games out. It has been suggested that they would likely have advanced to the Fall Classic had it not been for a minor wrist injury that sidelined Powell for two weeks in late August. Nevertheless, Robinson enjoyed a breakout season with a league-high 118 RBIs and won the AL Most Valuable Player Award.
The television/radio network of CBS' purchase of a majority stake in the Yankees on September 9 of that same year resulted in a change to the ownership situation in Baltimore. Iglehart, the Orioles' largest shareholder at 32% and owner of a sizable amount of CBS stock, straightened out his conflict of interest issues on May 25, 1965 by selling his 64,000 shares in the ball-club to the National Brewing Company, an original team investor which finally had controlling interest at 65%. Brewery president Jerold Hoffberger became the Orioles' new chairman of the board. Hoffberger's first action was installing Frank Cashen, the Director of Advertising for the National Brewery, as Senior Vice President & Chief Operating Officer for the Orioles.
With the benefit of a deep talent pool and superior scouts, the franchise continued to make improvements at the major league level. Three months before the start of the 1963 season, the Orioles stabilized its infield by acquiring Luis Aparicio in a transaction that involved sending a trio of homegrown players (Hansen, Nicholson and Ward) to the White Sox. They also scoured the minor leagues for selections in the Rule 5 draft (Paul Blair from the Mets in 1962, Moe Drabowsky from the Cardinals in 1965) and claims off waivers (Curt Blefary, 1965 AL Rookie of the Year, from the Yankees in 1963).
Milt Pappas for Frank Robinson
On December 9, 1965, the Orioles traded pitcher Milt Pappas (and several others) to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for slugging outfielder Frank Robinson. The following year, Robinson won the American League Most Valuable Player award, thus becoming the first (and so far only) man to win the MVP in each league (Robinson won the NL MVP in 1961, leading the Reds to the pennant). In addition to winning the 1966 MVP, Robinson also won the Triple Crown (leading the American League in batting average, home runs, and runs batted in), a feat also achieved the following season by Boston's Carl Yastrzemski. The Orioles won their first-ever American League championship in 1966, and in a major upset, swept the World Series by out-dueling the defending World Champion Los Angeles Dodgers, whose pitching staff was led by aces Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale. The only home run ball ever hit completely out of Memorial Stadium was slugged by Robinson on Mother's Day in 1966, off Cleveland Indians pitcher Luis Tiant. It cleared the left field single-deck portion of the grandstand. A flag was later erected near the spot the ball cleared the back wall, with simply the word "HERE" upon it. The flag is now in the Baltimore Orioles Museum.
Pappas went 30–29 in a little over two years with the Reds before being traded. Although he would go on to have back-to-back 17-win seasons for the Chicago Cubs in 1971 and 1972, including a no-hitter in the latter season, this did not help the Reds, who ended up losing the 1970 World Series to Robinson and the Orioles. This trade has become renowned as one of the most lopsided in baseball history, including a mention by Susan Sarandon in her opening soliloquy in the 1988 film Bull Durham: "Bad trades are a part of baseball. I mean, who can forget Frank Robinson for Milt Pappas?"
Glory years (1966–1983)
In the 1960s, the Orioles farm system produced an especially large number of high-quality players and coaches and laid the foundation for two decades of on-field success. This period included eighteen consecutive winning seasons (1968–1985) -- a run of success that saw the Orioles become the envy of the league, and the winningest team in baseball.
During this period, the Orioles played baseball the "Oriole Way", an organizational ethic best described by longtime farm hand and coach Cal Ripken, Sr.'s phrase "perfect practice makes perfect!" The Oriole Way was a belief that hard work, professionalism, and a strong understanding of fundamentals were the keys to success at the major league level. It was based on the belief that if every coach, at every level, taught the game the same way, the organization could produce "replacement parts" that could be substituted seamlessly into the big league club with little or no adjustment. Elaborations on the Oriole way include pitching coach and manager Ray Miller's maxim "Work fast, change speeds, and throw strikes" and manager Earl Weaver's maxim "Pitching, defense and three-run homers." " The "Oriole Way" began flourishing in 1966 after the Robinson-for-Pappas deal, as Robinson won the "Triple Crown Award". His Orioles would easily sweep the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1966 World Series. After a mediocre 1967 season, Hank Bauer would be replaced by Earl Weaver halfway into 1968. The Orioles would finish second in the American League. This would only be a prelude to 1969, when the Orioles won 109 games and easily won the newly created American League East division title. Mike Cuellar shared the Cy Young Award with Detroit's Denny McLain. After sweeping Minnesota in the American League Championship Series, Baltimore was shocked by losing to the New York Mets in a five-game World Series. The next year, Boog Powell won the MVP and the Orioles won another 108 games. After sweeping the Twins once again in the ALCS, the Orioles won the 1970 World Series by defeating the Cincinnati Reds' Big Red Machine in five games.
In 1971, the Orioles won another division title thanks to four 20-game winners on their pitching staff (Cuellar, Jim Palmer, Pat Dobson, and Dave McNally). After defeating the young Oakland A's in the ALCS, the Orioles would lose a heartbreaking seven-game World Series to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Orioles would miss the playoffs in 1972, but rebounded to win the division in 1973 and 1974. Each time, they would lose to Oakland in the ALCS. During this stretch, the Orioles began to phase out their veteran infield by replacing Davey Johnson and Brooks Robinson with younger stars Bobby Grich and Doug DeCinces, respectively. Johnson would be dealt along with Johnny Oates to the Atlanta Braves for catcher and 1971 National League Rookie of the Year Earl Williams. Although Williams had hit 63 home runs in two seasons with Atlanta, he would only hit 36 homers in two seasons with the Orioles.
In 1975, the Birds acquired slugger Lee May in a trade with Houston, and traded Dave McNally, Rich Coggins and minor-league pitcher Bill Kirkpatrick to Montreal for star outfielder Ken Singleton, and future 20-game winner Mike Torrez. Jim Palmer won the Cy Young Award, but the Orioles lost the division title to the Boston Red Sox and their mega-rookies Fred Lynn and Jim Rice. The 1976 season brought Reggie Jackson and Ken Holtzman from a trade with Oakland, but the Orioles only won 88 games. It was this season when the Orioles made a trade that brought them players such as Tippy Martinez and Rick Dempsey. This young foundation, along with the departures of the unhappy Jackson and Holtzman, would create the basis for 1977. The "No Name Orioles", along with Rookie of the Year Eddie Murray, won 97 games and finished tied for second place with Boston. After finishing fourth in 1978, the Orioles finally won the division in 1979 thanks to strong play from Ken Singleton and Cy Young winner Mike Flanagan. The Orioles defeated the Angels in the ALCS, but lost to Pittsburgh in another stunning World Series. This started a short period of heartbreak for Baltimore that would nevertheless culminate in a championship.
The Orioles won 100 games in 1980 thanks to Cy Young winner Steve Stone, but the Yankees won 103 games. Although Baltimore had the best overall record in the AL East in 1981, they finished second in each half. As a result, they were out of the playoffs due to the postseason structure that year because of the strike. The 1982 campaign saw Baltimore eliminated on the final weekend of the season by the Milwaukee Brewers. In an unforgettable scene, despite the season-ending loss eliminating them from the playoffs, fans stayed to honor the retiring Earl Weaver, who would be succeeded by Joe Altobelli. In 1983, Altobelli would lead the Orioles to 98 wins and a division title thanks to MVP Cal Ripken, Jr.. The Orioles defeated the Chicago White Sox in the ALCS thanks to a 10th-inning homer by Tito Landrum in the deciding game. The Orioles won the World Series in five games by defeating the Philadelphia Phillies.
During their most productive years and only World Series championships thus far, the Orioles saw three of its players named MVP: Frank Robinson in 1966; Boog Powell in 1970; and Cal Ripken, Jr. in 1983. Additionally, Brooks Robinson was named Most Valuable Player in 1964, just two years before the 1966–1983 golden era began. The pitching staff was phenomenal, with four pitchers winning six Cy Young Awards (Mike Cuellar in 1969; Jim Palmer in 1973, 1975, and 1976; Mike Flanagan in 1979; and Steve Stone in 1980). In 1971, the team's four starting pitchers, McNally, Cuellar, Palmer, and Pat Dobson, all won 20 games, a feat that has not been replicated. In that year, the Birds went on to post a 101–61 record for their third-straight AL East title. Also during this stretch three players were named rookies of the year: Al Bumbry (1973); Eddie Murray (1977); and Cal Ripken, Jr. (1982). One might date the glory years of the Orioles dating back to 1964, which would include two third-place seasons, 1964–65, in which the Orioles won 97 and 94 games, respectively, and a year in which third-baseman Brooks Robinson won his Most Valuable Player Award (1964). The glory years of the Orioles effectively ended when the Detroit Tigers, a divisional rival at the time, went 35–5 to open the 1984 season on the way to winning the World Series, in which Hall-of-Fame pitcher Jim Palmer retired during the 1984 season.
Final seasons at Memorial Stadium (1984–1991)
After winning the 1983 World Series, the Orioles spent the next five years in steady decline, finishing 1986 in last place for the first time since the franchise moved to Baltimore. The team hit bottom in 1988 when it started the season 0–21, en route to 107 losses and the worst record in the majors that year. The "Why Not?" Orioles surprised the baseball world the following year by spending most of the summer in first place until September when the Toronto Blue Jays overtook them and seized the AL East title on the final weekend of the regular season. The next two years were spent below the .500 mark, highlighted only by Cal Ripken, Jr. winning his second AL MVP Award in 1991. The Orioles said goodbye to Memorial Stadium, the team's home for 38 years, at the end of the 1991 campaign.
Camden Yards opens (1992–1993)
Opening to much fanfare in 1992, Oriole Park at Camden Yards was an instant success, spawning other retro-designed major league ballparks within the next two decades. The stadium became the site of the 1993 All-Star Game. The Orioles returned to contention in those first two seasons at Camden Yards, only to finish in third place both times.
Angelos takes over
Also in 1993, with then-owner Eli Jacobs forced to divest himself of the franchise, Baltimore-based attorney Peter Angelos, along with the ownership syndicate he headed, was awarded the Orioles in bankruptcy court in New York City, returning the team to local ownership for the first time since 1979.
Strike year (1994)
After the 1993 season, the Orioles acquired first baseman Rafael Palmeiro from the Texas Rangers. The Orioles, who spent all of 1994 chasing the New York Yankees, occupied second place in the new five-team AL East when the players strike, which began on August 11, forced the eventual cancellation of the season.
Ripken breaks the streak (1995)
The labor impasse would continue into the spring of 1995. Almost all of the major league clubs held spring training using replacement players, with the intention of beginning the season with them. The Orioles, whose owner was a labor union lawyer, were the lone dissenters against creating an ersatz team, choosing instead to sit out spring training and possibly the entire season. Had they fielded a substitute team, Cal Ripken, Jr.'s consecutive games streak would have been jeopardized. The replacements questions became moot when the strike was finally settled.
The Ripken countdown resumed once the season began. Ripken finally broke Lou Gehrig's consecutive games streak of 2,130 games in a nationally televised game on September 6. This was later voted the all-time baseball moment of the 20th century by fans from around the country in 1999. Ripken finished his streak with 2,632 straight games, finally sitting on September 20, 1998, the Orioles final home game of the season against the Yankees at Camden Yards.
The Orioles finished two games under .500 (71-73) in third place in Phil Regan's only season of managing the ballclub.
Playoff years (1996–1997)
Before the 1996 season, Angelos hired Pat Gillick as general manager. Given the green light to spend heavily on established talent, Gillick signed several premium players like B.J. Surhoff, Randy Myers, David Wells and Roberto Alomar. Under new manager Davey Johnson and on the strength of a then-major league record 257 home runs in a single season, the Orioles returned to the playoffs after a 12-year absence by clinching the AL wild card berth. Alomar set off a firestorm in September when he spat into home plate umpire John Hirschbeck's face during an argument in Toronto. He was later suspended for the first five games of the 1997 season, even though most wanted him banned from the postseason. After dethroning the defending American League champion Cleveland Indians 3–1 in the Division Series, the Orioles fell to the Yankees 4–1 in an ALCS notable for right field umpire Rich Garcia's failure to call fan interference in the first game of the series, when 11-year-old Yankee fan Jeffrey Maier reached over the outfield wall to catch an in-play ball, which was scored as a home run for Derek Jeter, tying the game at 4-4 in the eighth inning. Absent Maier's interference, it appeared as if the ball might have been off the wall or caught by right fielder Tony Tarasco. The Yankees went on to win the game in extra innings on an ensuing walk-off home run by Bernie Williams.
The Orioles went "wire-to-wire" (first place from start to finish) in winning the AL East title in 1997. After eliminating the Seattle Mariners 3–1 in the Division Series, the team lost again in the ALCS, this time to the underdog Indians 4–2, with each Oriole loss by only a run. Johnson resigned as manager after the season, largely due to a spat with Angelos concerning Alomar's fine for missing a team function being donated to Johnson's wife's charity. Pitching coach Ray Miller replaced Johnson.
Beginning of a downturn (1998–2002)
With Miller at the helm, the Orioles found themselves not only out of the playoffs, but also with a losing season. When Gillick's contract expired in 1998, it was not renewed. Angelos brought in Frank Wren to take over as GM. The Orioles added volatile slugger Albert Belle, but the team's woes continued in the 1999 season, with stars like Rafael Palmeiro, Roberto Alomar, and Eric Davis leaving in free agency. After a second straight losing season, Angelos fired both Miller and Wren. He named Syd Thrift the new GM and brought in former Cleveland manager Mike Hargrove.
In a rare event on March 28, 1999, the Orioles staged an exhibition series against the Cuban national team in Havana. The Orioles won the game 3–2 in 11 innings. They were the first Major League team to play in Cuba since 1959, when the Los Angeles Dodgers faced the Orioles in an exhibition. The Cuban team visited Baltimore in May 1999. Cuba won the second game 10–6.
Cal Ripken, Jr. achieved his 3000th hit early in the season. A fire sale occurred late in the season, where the Orioles traded away many veterans for unproven young players and minor league prospects. The Orioles called up many of their AAA players to finish the season. The only acquired player that would have a long-term career with the organization was Melvin Mora.
This was Cal Ripken, Jr.'s final season. His number (8) was retired in a ceremony before the final home game of the season.
Post-Ripken era and downfall (2003–2011)
In an effort to right the Orioles' sinking ship, changes began to sweep through the organization in 2003. General manager Syd Thrift was fired and to replace him, the Orioles hired Jim Beattie as executive vice-president and Mike Flanagan as the vice president of baseball operations. After another losing season, manager Mike Hargrove was not retained and Yankees coach Lee Mazzilli was brought in as the new manager. The team signed powerful hitters in SS Miguel Tejada, C Javy López, and former Oriole 1B Rafael Palmeiro. The following season, the Orioles traded for OF Sammy Sosa.
The team got hot early in 2005 and jumped out in front of the AL East division, holding onto first place for 62 straight days. However, turmoil on and off the field began to take its toll as the Orioles started struggling around the All-Star break, dropping them close to the surging Yankees and Red Sox. Injuries to Lopez, Sosa, Luis Matos, Brian Roberts, and Larry Bigbie came within weeks of each other, and the team grew increasingly dissatisfied with the "band-aid" moves of the front office and manager Mazzilli to help them through this period of struggle. Various minor league players such as Single-A Frederick OF Jeff Fiorentino were brought up in place of more experienced players such as OF David Newhan, who had batted .311 the previous season.
After starting the season 42–28 (.600), the Orioles finished the season with a stretch of 32–60 (.348), ending at 74–88 (.457). Only the Kansas City Royals (.346) had a worse winning percentage for the season than did the Orioles for the final 92 games. The club's major off-season acquisition, Sammy Sosa, posted his worst performance in a decade, with 14 home runs and a .221 batting average. The Orioles did not attempt to re-sign him. The Orioles also allowed Palmeiro to file for free agency and publicly stated they would not re-sign him. On August 25, pitcher Sidney Ponson was arrested for DUI, and on September 1, the Orioles moved to void his contract (on a morals clause) and released him. The Major League Baseball Players Association filed a grievance on Ponson's behalf and the case was sent to arbitration and was eventually resolved.
In the 2006 World Baseball Classic, the Orioles contributed more players than any other major league team, with eleven players suiting up for their home nations. Érik Bédard and Adam Loewen pitched for Canada; Rodrigo López and Gerónimo Gil (released before the season began by the club) played for Mexico; Daniel Cabrera and Miguel Tejada for the Dominican Republic; Javy López and Luis Matos for Puerto Rico; Bruce Chen for Panama; Ramón Hernández for Venezuela; and John Stephens for Australia. The Orioles finished the 2006 season with a record of 70 wins and 92 losses, 27 games behind the AL East-leading Yankees.
On June 18, the Orioles fired Sam Perlozzo after losing eight straight games. He was replaced on interim basis by Dave Trembley. On June 22, Miguel Tejada's consecutive-games streak came to an end due to an injury, the fifth-longest streak in major league history. Aubrey Huff became the first Oriole to hit for the cycle at home, on June 29 against the Angels. On July 7, Érik Bédard struck out 15 batters in a game against the Texas Rangers to tie a franchise record held by Mike Mussina. On July 31, 2007, Andy MacPhail named Dave Trembley as the Orioles manager through the remainder of the 2007 season, and advised him to "Keep up the good work." Facing the Texas Rangers in a doubleheader at Camden Yards on August 22, the Orioles surrendered 30 runs in the first game-a modern-era record for a single game-in a 30–3 defeat. The Orioles led the game 3–0 after three innings of play. Sixteen of Texas' thirty runs were scored in the final two innings. The Orioles would also fall in the nightcap, 9–7.
The Orioles began the 2008 season in a rebuilding mode under President of Baseball Operations Andy MacPhail. The Orioles traded away star players Miguel Tejada to the Astros and ace Érik Bédard to the Seattle Mariners for prized prospect Adam Jones, lefty reliever George Sherrill, and minor league pitchers Kam Mickolio, Chris Tillman, and Tony Butler. The Orioles started off the first couple weeks of the season near the top of their division as players such as Nick Markakis and newcomer Luke Scott led the team offensively. Although the Orioles hovered around .500 for much of the season, they had fallen back by September and were over 20 games behind the first place Tampa Bay Rays. They finished the season losing 11 of their final 12 games and 28 of their final 34. The team finished last for the first time since their 1988 season.
After the season ended, the Orioles showcased altered uniforms, with a circular 'Maryland' patch added to the left-hand sleeve of all jerseys and the grey road jerseys displaying "Baltimore" across the chest for the first time in a quarter-century; this reflected the arrival of the Washington Nationals, because ever since the Washington Senators had departed for Texas in 1972, the Orioles had claimed to represent the Baltimore-Washington metro area.
On June 30, the Orioles rallied to score 10 runs against Boston Red Sox after facing a 10–1 deficit in the 7th inning, winning the game by 11–10, setting a Major League Baseball record for the largest comeback by a last-place team over a first-place team. However, the team finished the 2009 season with 64 wins and 98 losses, making it the worst record in the 2009 American League season. Despite this, Manager Dave Trembley was re-hired for the 2010 season. Centerfielder Adam Jones was named to the 2009 All Star team and awarded a Gold Glove award for his defensive play.
On April 12, the team set a club record for the lowest paid attendance in Camden Yards history, only 9,129 attended the game versus the Tampa Bay Rays. The Orioles then went 2–16 to begin the season, one of the worst openings in MLB history. For much of the first half of the season, they had the worst record in the league.
On June 4, the Orioles replaced Dave Trembley as manager with third base coach Juan Samuel as interim manager. They did well at first, but then they started losing again. The Orioles hired Buck Showalter on July 30 to be the full-time manager. He was introduced on August 2 and made his debut on August 3, after the Orioles fired Samuel. Showalter's arrival produced, or coincided with, a turnaround; the Birds went 34–24 in August, September and October.
On February 4, the Orioles signed free agent Vladimir Guerrero to be the team's designated hitter. Guerrero hit 29 home runs and had a .300 batting average in the 2010 season with the Texas Rangers. He has a career average of .320 and 436 home runs.
The Orioles 2011 record was 69–93, the 14th consecutive losing season for the franchise dating back to 1998. The highlight of the season was their final game on September 28, when they defeated the Boston Red Sox 4-3 thanks to 9th inning heroics by Nolan Reimold and Robert Andino. The Orioles victory prevented the Red Sox from earning the wild card berth as part of "Game 162", one of the most dramatic nights in Major League Baseball history. On November 8, the Orioles announced the hiring of Dan Duquette as the vice president of baseball operations (de facto GM) in the hopes of turning the corner.
Back in the playoffs (2012–present)
The Orioles finished the first half of the 2012 season with a winning record for only the second time since going wire to wire in 1997, with a record of 45-40 before the All-Star break. On May 6, the Orioles played a 17-inning game against the Boston Red Sox, the first game since 1925 in which both teams used a position player as a pitcher. The Orioles won that game, and designated hitter Chris Davis received the win. The Orioles won their 81st game on September 13, ending the streak of 14 straight years with a losing record, as well as ensuring that the team would spend the entire year with a record of .500 or higher. On September 16, they won their 82nd game, securing the first season with a winning record since 1997.
On September 21, closer Jim Johnson earned his 46th save of the season, setting a new Orioles franchise record for saves by one pitcher in a single season. It was previously held by Randy Myers, who had 45 saves in 1997. Johnson became the tenth player to record 50 saves in Major League history. He finished the regular season with 51 saves.
With the win against the Boston Red Sox on September 30 and the loss of the Los Angeles Angels to the Texas Rangers in the second game of a double header, the Orioles clinched a playoff berth. This season marked the Orioles return to postseason play.
The Orioles finished the regular season in second place in the AL East with a record of 93-69, reversing the 69-93 record from the previous year. Despite a poor run differential (+7, the lowest of all playoff teams in 2012), they benefited from a 29-9 record in games decided by one run and a 16-2 record in extra-inning games. They went on the road to face the team that finished first in the Wild Card race, the Texas Rangers for a one-game playoff series on October 5, winning 5-1 to advance to the ALDS against the New York Yankees on October 7.
The season was also distinctive for the fact that Orioles became the only team in MLB history, since 1900, never to have lost a game due to an opponent's walk-off hit. Despite a regular season of avoiding walk-off losses, they lost in Game 3 of the ALDS when Yankee Raúl Ibañez hit his own record-setting, game-winning home run in the bottom of the 12th inning. The Orioles would lose the 2012 American League Division Series in five games.
During the home opener on April 5, first baseman Chris Davis set a new MLB record with 16 RBI's during the first four games of a season, as well as becoming the fourth player ever to hit home runs in the first four games, including a grand slam in the fourth. On September 13, Davis hit his 50th home run of the season, against the Toronto Blue Jays, tying Brady Anderson for the most home runs in Orioles history. Davis would break Anderson's record four days later against the Boston Red Sox. His 51st home run also tied Anderson's record of 92 extra-base hits in a single season, a record he would again break four days later. Davis would go on to finish the season with 53 home runs.
On September 18, the Orioles played their 114th errorless game of the season, setting a new MLB record for the most errorless games in one season since 1900. They played 119 games without an error, ending on September 27.
On September 20, the Orioles played the Tampa Bay Rays in an 18 inning game that lasted 6 hours, 54 minutes, a new record for the longest game in terms of time for both franchises, as well as innings for the Rays. The Rays won 5-4.
While the Orioles would ultimately miss the playoffs in 2013, they finished with a record of 85-77, tying the Yankees for third place in the AL East. By posting winning records in 2012 and 2013, the Orioles achieved the feat of back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 1996 and 1997.
On September 16, the Orioles clinched the division for the first time since 1997 with a win against the Toronto Blue Jays as well as making it back to the postseason for the second time in three years. The Orioles finished the 2014 season with a 96-66 record and went on to sweep the Detroit Tigers in the ALDS. Notably, the three Tigers starters were winners of the previous 3 AL Cy Young Awards; Max Scherzer (2013), Justin Verlander (2011), and David Price (2012). The O's were then in turn swept by the Kansas City Royals in the ALCS.
On April 26, the Orioles scored 18 runs against the Boston Red Sox, the most runs they had scored in a single game, since they defeated the Cleveland Indians 18-9 on April 19, 2006. The Orioles beat the Red Sox 18-7. On June 16, the Orioles scored 19 runs against the Philadelphia Phillies, making it the most runs the Orioles have scored since earlier in the season against the Red Sox. The Orioles had 8 home runs during the game, a franchise record. The team then later got their 5000th win as the Orioles on June 28 with a shoutout 4-0 win over the Indians. On August 16, the Orioles defeated the Oakland Athletics 18-2, during which the team tied a franchise record for hits in a single game with 26. On September 11, the Orioles rallied from a two run deficit of 6-4 in the bottom of the 8th inning, against the Kansas City Royals. The Orioles won the game 14-8. The rally included left fielder Nolan Reimold and designated hitter Steve Clevenger both hitting their first career grand slams, making the Orioles the only franchise in the history of Major League Baseball to hit multiple grand slams in the same inning in two different games, the last time being in 1986. On September 30, in a reverse of fortune, the Toronto Blue Jays clinched the AL East with a win over the Orioles in Baltimore where they watched the Orioles celebrate their division title clinch the previous year.
Response to 2015 unrest
Out of an abundance of caution, the Baltimore Orioles announced the postponement of the April 27 & 28 games against the Chicago White Sox following violent riots in West Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray. Following the announcement of the second postponement, the Orioles also announced that the third game in the series scheduled for Wednesday, April 29 was to be closed to the public and would be televised only, apparently the first time in 145 years of Major League Baseball that a game had no spectators and breaking the previous 131-year-old record for lowest paid attendance to an official game (the previous record being 6.) The Orioles beat the White Sox, 8-2. The Orioles said the make-up games would be played Thursday, May 28, as a double-header. In addition, the weekend games against the Tampa Bay Rays was moved to the Rays' home stadium in St. Petersburg where Baltimore played as the home team.
The Orioles' home uniform is white with the word "Orioles" written across the chest. The road uniform is gray with the word "Baltimore" written across the chest. A long campaign of several decades was waged by numerous fans and sportswriters to return the name of the city to the "away" jerseys which was used since the 1950s and had been formerly dropped during the 1970s era of Edward Bennett Williams when the ownership was continuing to market the team also to fans in the nations' capital region after the moving of the former Washington Senators in 1971. After several decades, approximately 20% of the teams' attendance came from the metro Washington area. An alternate uniform is black with the word "Orioles" written across the chest. The Orioles wear their black alternate jerseys for Friday night games with the alternate "O's" cap, whether at home or on the road; the cartoon bird batting helmet is still used with this uniform (see description on home and road design).
For 2012, the team unveiled its new uniforms. There was a change to the cap insignia, with the cartoon Oriole returning. Home caps are white in front and black at the back with an orange bill, while the road caps are all black with an orange bill. The Orioles also introduced a new alternate orange uniform to be worn on Saturday home games throughout the 2012 season.
In 2013, ESPN ran a "Battle of the Uniforms" contest between all 30 Major League Clubs. Despite using a ranking system that had the Orioles as a #13 seed, the Birds beat the #1 seed Cardinals in the championship round.
On June 27, 2014, the Orioles announced since their win in New York against the New York Yankees they will wear their 'new orange' jerseys every Saturday for the rest of the 2014 season both home and away. They have since continued to wear the orange jerseys on most Saturday road games.
In Baltimore, Orioles games on radio can be heard over WJZ-FM (105.7 FM). Fred Manfra and Joe Angel alternate as play-by-play announcers. WJZ-FM also feeds the games to a network of 36 stations, covering Washington, D.C. and all or portions of Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina.
WJZ-FM is in its second stint as the Orioles' flagship radio outlet; the station had carried the team previously from 2007 through 2010. Previous radio flagships for the Orioles have been WCBM (680 AM) from 1954 to 1956, and again for the 1987 season; WBAL (1090 AM) over three separate stints (1957 to 1978, 1988 to 2006, and 2011 to 2014); and WFBR (1300 AM, now WJZ) from 1979 through 1986.
The Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN), co-owned by the Orioles and the Washington Nationals, is the team's exclusive television broadcaster. MASN airs almost the entire slate of regular season games. Some exceptions include Saturday games on either Fox (via its Baltimore affiliate, WBFF) or Fox Sports 1, or Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN. Many MASN telecasts in conflict with Nationals' game telecasts air on an alternate MASN2 feed. MASN also produces an over-the-air package of games for broadcast locally by CBS–owned WJZ-TV (channel 13); these broadcasts are branded as "O's TV". Veteran sportscaster Gary Thorne is the current lead television announcer, with Jim Hunter as his backup along with Hall of Fame member and former Orioles pitcher Jim Palmer and former Oriole infielder Mike Bordick as color analysts, who almost always work separately. All telecasts on MASN and WJZ-TV are shown in high-definition.
As part of the settlement of a television broadcast rights dispute with Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic, the Orioles severed their Comcast ties at the end of the 2006 season. Comcast SportsNet had been the Orioles' cable partner since 1984, when it was Home Team Sports.
WJZ-TV has been the Orioles' broadcast TV home since 1994. The station has previously carried the team from their arrival in Baltimore in 1954 through 1978; in the first four seasons, WJZ-TV shared coverage with Baltimore's other two stations, WMAR-TV and WBAL-TV. The games moved to WMAR from 1979 through 1993 before returning to WJZ-TV. From 1994 to 2009, some Orioles games aired on WNUV.
Six former Oriole franchise radio announcers have received the Hall of Fame's Ford C. Frick Award for excellence in broadcasting: Chuck Thompson (who was also the voice of the old NFL Baltimore Colts); Jon Miller (now with the San Francisco Giants); Ernie Harwell, Herb Carneal; Bob Murphy and Harry Caray (as a St. Louis Browns announcer in the 1940s.).
Other former Baltimore announcers include Josh Lewin (currently with New York Mets), Bill O'Donnell, Tom Marr, Scott Garceau, Mel Proctor, Michael Reghi, former major league catcher Buck Martinez (now Toronto Blue Jays play-by-play), and former Oriole players including Brooks Robinson, pitcher Mike Flanagan and outfielder John Lowenstein. In 1991, the Orioles experimented with longtime TV writer/producer Ken Levine as a play-by-play broadcaster. Levine was best noted for his work on TV shows such as Cheers and M*A*S*H, but only lasted one season in the Orioles broadcast booth.
Since its introduction at games by the "Roar from 34", led by Wild Bill Hagy and others, in the late 1970s, it has been a tradition at Orioles games for fans to yell out the "Oh" in the line "Oh, say does that Star-Spangled Banner yet wave" in "The Star-Spangled Banner". "The Star-Spangled Banner" has special meaning to Baltimore historically, as it was written during the Battle of Baltimore in the War of 1812 by Francis Scott Key, a Baltimorean. "O" is not only short for "Oriole", but the vowel is also a stand-out aspect of the Baltimorean accent.
The tradition is often carried out at other sporting events, both professional or amateur, and even sometimes at non-sporting events where the anthem is played, throughout the Baltimore/Washington area and beyond. Fans in Norfolk, Virginia, chanted "O!" even before the Tides became an Orioles affiliate. The practice caught some attention in the spring of 2005, when fans performed the "O!" cry at Washington Nationals games at RFK Stadium. The "O!" chant is also common at sporting events for the various Maryland Terrapins teams at the University of Maryland, College Park. At Cal Ripken, Jr.'s induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the crowd, comprising mostly Orioles fans, carried out the "O!" tradition during Tony Gwynn's daughter's rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner." Additionally, a faint but audible "O!" could be heard on the television broadcast of Barack Obama's pre-inaugural visit to Baltimore as the National Anthem played before his entrance. A resounding "O!" bellowed from the nearly 30,000 Ravens fans that attended the November 21, 2010, away game at the Carolina Panthers' Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina. A similar loud "O!" was heard from fans attending Super Bowl XLVII between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers. The "O!" chant was also heard during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, when Baltimore native Michael Phelps received one of his gold medals on August 9, 2016.
In recent years, when the Orioles host the Toronto Blue Jays, fans have begun to shout out the multiple instances of the word "O" in "O Canada". Washington Capitals fans will do the same when they play one of the NHL's Canadian teams.
"Thank God I'm a Country Boy"
It has been an Orioles tradition since 1975 to play John Denver's "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" during the seventh-inning stretch.
In the edition of July 5, 2007 of Baltimore's weekly sports publication Press Box, an article by Mike Gibbons covered the details of how this tradition came to be. During "Thank God I'm a Country Boy", Charlie Zill, then an usher, would put on overalls, a straw hat, and false teeth and dance around the club level section (244) that he tended to. He also has an orange violin that spins for the fiddle solos. He went by the name Zillbilly and had done the skit from the 1999 season until shortly before he died in early 2013. During a nationally televised game on September 20, 1997, Denver himself danced to the song atop the Orioles' dugout, one of his final public appearances before dying in a plane crash three weeks later.
"Orioles Magic" and other songs
Songs from notable games in the team's history include "One Moment in Time" for Cal Ripken's record-breaking game in 1995, as well as the theme from Pearl Harbor, "There You'll Be" by Faith Hill, during his final game in 2001. The theme from Field of Dreams was played at the last game at Memorial Stadium in 1991, and the song "Magic to Do" from the stage musical Pippin was used that season to commemorate "Orioles Magic" on 33rd Street. During the Orioles' heyday in the 1970s, a club song, appropriately titled "Orioles Magic (Feel It Happen)", was composed by Walt Woodward, and played when the team ran out until Opening Day of 2008. Since then, the song (a favorite among all fans, who appreciated its references to Wild Bill Hagy and Earl Weaver) is only played (along with a video featuring several Orioles stars performing the song) after wins. Seven Nation Army is played as a hype song while the fans chant the signature bass riff as a rally cry during key moments of a game or after a walk-off hit.
The First Army Band
During the Orioles' final homestand of the season, it is a tradition to display a replica of the 15-star, 15-stripe American flag at Camden Yards. Prior to 1992, the 15-star, 15-stripe flag flew from Memorial Stadium's center-field flagpole in place of the 50-star, 13-stripe flag during the final homestand. Since the move to Camden Yards, the former flag has been displayed on the batters' eye. During the Orioles' final home game of the season, The United States Army Field Band from Fort Meade performs the National Anthem prior to the start of the game. The Band has also played the National Anthem at the finales of three World Series in which the Orioles played in: 1970, 1971 and 1979. They are introduced as the "First Army Band" during the pregame ceremonies.
For 23 years, Rex Barney was the PA announcer for the Orioles. His voice became a fixture of both Memorial Stadium and Camden Yards, and his expression "Give that fan a contract", uttered whenever a fan caught a foul ball, was one of his trademarks – the other being his distinct "Thank Yooooou..." following every announcement. (He was also known on occasion to say "Give that fan an error" after a dropped foul ball.) Barney died on August 12, 1997, and in his honor that night's game at Camden Yards against the Oakland Athletics was held without a public–address announcer.
Barney was replaced as Camden Yards' PA announcer by Dave McGowan, who held the position until December 2011.
Lifelong Orioles fan and former MLB Fan Cave resident Ryan Wagner is the current PA announcer. He was chosen out of a field of more than 670 applicants in the 2011–2012 offseason.
Of the eight original American League teams, the Orioles were the last of the eight to win the World Series, doing so in 1966 with its four–game sweep of the heavily favored Los Angeles Dodgers. When the Orioles were the St. Louis Browns, they played in only one World Series, the 1944 matchup against their Sportsman's Park tenants, the Cardinals. The Orioles won the first-ever American League Championship Series in 1969, and in 2012 the Orioles beat the Texas Rangers in the inaugural American League Wild Card game, where for the first time two Wild Card teams faced each other during postseason play.
- ↑Appeared as the St. Louis Browns
- ↑This and subsequent appearances as the Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles will only retire a number when a player has been inducted into the Hall of Fame with Cal Ripken, Jr. being the only exception. However, the Orioles have placed moratoriums on other former Orioles's numbers following their deaths (see note below). To date, the Orioles have retired the following numbers:
Note: Cal Ripken, Sr.'s number 7, Elrod Hendricks' number 44 and Mike Flanagan's number 46 have not been retired, but a moratorium has been placed on them and they have not been issued by the team since their deaths.
†Jackie Robinson's number 42 is retired throughout Major League Baseball
Team Hall of Fame
The Orioles also have an official team hall of fame, located on display on Eutaw Street at Camden Yards. The most recent inductees are John Lowenstein, Gary Roenicke, and Melvin Mora, who were inducted in 2015.
Individual records – Batting
Individual records – Pitching
Rivalry with the Washington Nationals
The Orioles have a burgeoning regional rivalry with the nearby Washington Nationals nicknamed the Beltway Series or Battle of the Beltways. Baltimore currently leads the series with a 26-20 record over the Nationals.